Last updated on: 5/13/2009 12:12:00 PM PST
Should "In God We Trust" Be Removed from US Currency?
General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
"The motto was first placed on coins by the U.S. Treasury in 1864, during the Civil War. In 1955, Congress passed a bill to have the motto placed on paper currency, and it first appeared on bills two years later.
In 1956, Congress passed a resolution declaring 'In God We Trust' the national motto."
Feb. 28, 2002 - Cable News Network (CNN)
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, wrote in a Nov. 11, 1907 letter:
"My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. A beautiful and solemn sentence such as the one in question should be treated and uttered only with that fine reverence which necessarily implies a certain exaltation of spirit. Any use which tends to cheapen it, and above all, any use which tends to secure its being treated in a spirit of levity, is from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted."
Nov. 11, 1907 - Theodore Roosevelt
Anne Nicol Gaylor, former President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote in a June-July 1994 Freethought Today article:
"It is constantly cited by the religious right as verification that this is a 'Christian nation,' and as grounds for further state/church entanglement. The religious right needs to be reminded that ours is a godless Constitution, and was very purposefully and deliberately written that way.
Most people do not realize that 'In God We Trust' is a johnny-come-lately. We believe the motto 'E pluribus unum' should resume its former stature. After all, it was the motto chosen by Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin."
June-July 1994 - Freedom From Religion Foundation
Jon G. Murray, American Atheists' Former President, told the Congressional House Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Coinage of the Committee on Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs on Sep. 14, 1988:
"It is our position that the inclusion of that motto on coins and currency violates the Free Speech, Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the First Amendment and the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States in that it is a religious phrase showing that the government has selected and established a particular monotheistic type of religion...
When the government of the United States sees fit to place the value of patriotism or adherence to constitutional principles predominantly in a religious context, whether on coins or in the form of a pledge, an oath, or an invocation, it serves to weaken the bonds that hold all citizens of this country in common.
We ask that the symbolism on our coins and currency not serve to divide Americans into religionists and secularists, but tend to unite all citizens in an equal appreciation of our constitutional democracy."
Sep. 14, 1988 - American Atheists
Michael Newdow, JD and MD, was quoted on June 13, 2006 by the Religion News Service:
"It's such a fraud. In this nation that's supposed to be this beacon of religious liberty, a bastion of equality. What's next? 'In Jesus We Trust'? 'In Protestantism We Trust'?"
June 13, 2006 - Michael Newdow, JD, MD
William Brennan, JD, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote in his Mar. 5, 1984 Lynch v. Donnelly dissent that:
"I would suggest that such practices as the designation of 'In God We Trust' as our national motto, or the references to God contained in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag can best be understood, in Dean Rostow's apt phrase, as a form of 'ceremonial deism,' protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content. Moreover, these references are uniquely suited to serve such wholly secular purposes as solemnizing public occasions, or inspiring commitment to meet some national challenge in a manner that simply could not be fully served in our culture if government were limited to purely nonreligious phrases."
Mar. 5, 1984 - William J. Brennan, JD
Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), wrote in an Apr. 2006 article on the ACLJ website:
"Let's not forget the historical significance of the phrase 'In God We Trust.' Use of the slogan dates back to the War of 1812. In September 1814, fearing for the fate of America while watching the British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Francis Scott Key composed the poem the 'Star Spangled Banner,' of which one line in the final stanza is 'And this be our motto - 'in God is our trust.' When Congress codified the longstanding motto in 1956 - fifty years ago - it articulated a purpose that reflected patriotic inspiration: 'It will be of great spiritual and psychological value to our country to have a clearly designated national motto of inspirational quality in plain, popularly accepted English.'"
Apr. 2006 - American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)
Brad Dacus, President of the Pacific Justice Institute, released a July 25, 2006 press release that stated:
"If the courts don't protect the national motto, we have to ask ourselves what is next-are we going to rename San Francisco and all the other major cities in California whose names have obvious religious connotations? American history, including our national motto, is nothing to be ashamed of. To the contrary, the unprecedented religious tolerance, devotion and diversity of our nation, reflected in the statement 'In God We Trust,' should be a tremendous source of pride for every American."
July 25, 2006 - Pacific Justice Institute
Donald E. Wildmon, President of the American Family Association, wrote on the organization's website (accessed Aug. 2006) that:
"Our national motto reflects the belief which our forefathers held, that trust in God is the bedrock precept of this noble experiment we call America."
Aug. 2006 - American Family Association
Richard Thompson, JD, Thomas More Law Center's Chief Counsel, on Jan. 15, 2002 wrote on the Law Center's website:
"The phony argument that mentioning trust in God somehow establishes a state sponsored religion is absurd, and people shouldn't be afraid to profess what an overwhelming majority of the country already believes. Agencies like the ACLU have been stripping even the mention of the word God from schools for too long."
Jan. 15, 2002 - Thomas More Law Center